About the Composer & Librettist

Learn more about composer Kamala Sankaram and librettist Susan Yankowitz and read their articles about the origins of Thumbprint.

Praised as “one of the most exciting opera composers in the country"” (Washington Post), composer Kamala Sankaram moves freely between the worlds of experimental music and contemporary opera.

Recent commissions include works for the Glimmerglass Festival (where she will be the 2022 Composer-in-Residence), Washington National Opera, the PROTOTYPE Festival, and Creative Time, among others. Kamala is known for her operas fusing Indian classical music with the operatic form, including Thumbprint, A Rose, Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers, and the forthcoming Jungle Book. Also known for her work pushing the boundaries of the operatic form, recent works include The Last Stand, a 10-hour opera created for the trees of Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Only You Will Recognize the Signal, a serial space opera performed live over the internet, Looking at You, a techno-noir featuring live datamining of the audience and a chorus of 25 singing tablet computers, all decisions will be made by consensus, a short absurdist opera performed live over Zoom, and The Parksville Murders, the world’s first virtual reality opera.

Also an accomplished performer, Kamala is the leader of Bombay Rickey, an operatic Bollywood surf ensemble whose accolades include two awards for Best Eclectic Album from the Independent Music Awards, the 2018 Mid-Atlantic touring grant, and appearances on WFMU and NPR. Awards, grants and residencies: Jonathan Larson Award, NEA ArtWorks, MAP Fund, Opera America, HERE Artist Residency Program, the MacDowell Colony, and the Watermill Center.

Dr. Sankaram holds a PhD from the New School and is currently a member of the composition faculties at the Mannes College of Music and SUNY Purchase.

Learn more about Kamala Sankaram here.

Read Kamala Sankaram's article for Toi, Toi, Toi Magazine: "The Origins of Thumbprint."


Susan Yankowitz is a librettist and novelist, sometimes a screenwriter, most frequently a playwright. Among her best-known works are Terminal and 1969 Terminal 1996 (with Joseph Chaikin’s Open Theatre), A Knife in the Heart/Gun (published 2021 by Methuen), Night Sky, Phaedra in Delirium and Seven, a documentary drama about 7 remarkable women by 7 women playwrights which has been translated into 32 languages and performed widely in the U.S. and internationally. Night Sky, produced in NY, L.A. and 28 other cities world-wide, has recently been translated into Hebrew and German.

Her latest play is called The Crazy But True Tragical-Farcical Trial Of Madame P, A Theatrical Bestiary Inspired by Trials of the Middle Ages wherein a Pig and Various 4-Legged and Winged Creatures are Prosecuted for Theft, Murder, Bestiality and Diverse Crimes against Humankind, and she has just completed her second novel, Birth Copulation Death. Her life in theater has been aided by support from the NEA, NYFA, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, Opera America, Bogliasco, MacDowell, Yaddo, the Hermitage, and others. In the best of times, her work has been called “moving and poetic” (Los Angeles Times); “magnificent… scorching” (NPR); and “breathtaking” (New York Times). In the worst of times, she tries to remember the best of times.

Learn more about Susan Yankowitz here.

Read Susan Yankowitz's article for Toi, Toi, Toi Magazine: "Mukhtar Mai, Writing Her Story."

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